Behind the veil

Swedish-Norwegian visual artist Vanna Bowles is especially known for her photo-realistic black-and-white pencil drawings, three-dimensional sculpture drawings and installations. Her artistic language is figurative and surreal, with lavish details. Her motives are often of people in vulnerable situations, such as a young man getting an ivy tattoo or a girl looking out from curtains of wild ivy.

Bowles explores the boundaries between culture and nature when, for example, she lets branches grow out of the fingers of a hand or ivy cover a person´s head.

In her art nature acts as a metaphor for emotions – something that grows wild and cannot be tamed, although her images show that humans try to be in control.

Behind each work lies a meticulous working process, with references to classical art tradition. In spite of that, Bowls works have a distinct, contemporary expression, which appears both burlesque and delicately poetic.

The artist often uses old black-and-white photographs as inspiration, as in her moving drawing of a girl with a bird in her lap. The motive seems familiar; it could have been from our own ancestors’ photo album. The girl seems calm and at ease, but the picture all the same time express an unsettling feeling. It is as if there is something more to it than appears at first glance. As if her undisturbed calm is nothing but a veil…

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